The House passed a package of reform measures last week that will now go to the state Senate for consideration, according to Rep. Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon), a supporter of the bills aimed at reforming state government and creating more openness, transparency and accessibility.
"These reform bills are the first measures we have voted on that will have a significant effect to make state government more open and transparent," said Heffley. "They provide for public disclosure of no-bid contracts and ensure that state employees who previously worked for a contract bidder do not influence the acceptance of that bid over other bids.
"We also voted to establish a website where state spending and vendor information is publicly available and openly accessible to the public. We voted to increase whistleblower protections and strengthen lobbyist laws and ethics," said Heffley.
Here is a brief description of the measures that passed the House this week:
* House Bill 15 would create a searchable database for all legislative, judicial and state budget expenditures to make government more accountable to taxpayers for money it spends. If enacted, the bill requires the website to be active by August 31, 2011.
* House Bill 103 reigns in lobbyists' activities to lobbying only and increases the penalties for violations of the lobbying disclosure law.
* House Bill 104 strengthens whistleblower protections for all state employees and those working on state contracts to include the General Assembly and its agencies.
* House Bill 105 extends whistleblower protection to employees of nonprofits and private sector companies who report waste of public monies obtained by their employer for services or work.
* House Bill 107 ensures that sealed competitive bids are not evaluated by public employees who were formerly employed by the companies bidding on state contracts.
* House Bill 108 amends the Right-To-Know Law enabling public inspection of non-competitively awarded contracts prior to their approval.
* House Bill 109 prohibits members of the General Assembly from creating or maintaining non-profit entities that receive public funding or grants.
Each of these bills is part of a package of reforms known as the Pennsylvania Agenda for Trust in Harrisburg, or PATH.
"These bills are the first wave of reforms the House will be voting on to rebuild the public's trust in state government and the Legislature," said Heffley. "This has been one of my top priorities since coming to Harrisburg and I am pleased these measures have moved forward so quickly to start the legislative session."